The Special Relationship and the Anglo-Iranian oil crisis, 1950–4

Article English OPEN
Marsh, Steve (1998)
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Subject: JK | JN101 | JA | JQ

The Anglo-Iranian oil crisis of 1950–4 provides an ideal case-study for those\ud interested in the postwar Anglo-American Special Relationship. This article investigates the\ud oil crisis with two purposes in mind: first, to demonstrate how Britain and the United States\ud struggled to adjust their bilateral relations in response to their changing postwar world\ud positions; second, to show just how crucial both countries perceived the Special Relationship\ud to be in the early 1950s. This is done by examining the American decision not to pursue a\ud policy in the Iranian oil crisis that would undermine Britain’s position, despite at times severe\ud Anglo-American tension. It is concluded that the problems created by the changing balance of\ud forces within the Special Relationship were mitigated in Iran by a combination of\ud consanguinity and, more important, the US need for British help in its policy of global\ud containment. In short, Anglo-American policy-makers perceived sufficient mutual need to\ud persuade them to actively preserve and develop the Special Relationship.
  • References (41)
    41 references, page 1 of 5

    9 C. Bell, The Debatable Alliance: An Essay in Anglo-American Relations (London, 1964), p. 7.

    10 Extract from a Memorandum for the Permanent Under-Secretary's Committee, Anglo-American Relations: Present and Future, 22 Apr. 1950, in R. Bullen and M. Pelley (eds.), Documents on British Policy Overseas, Series 2, vol. 2: The London Conferences, Anglo-American Relations and Cold War Strategy January-June 1950 (London, 1987), p. 81.

    11 Harry S. Truman Library (HST), PSF, box 116, papers prepared for general information, Steering Group preparation for President and P.M. talks, 'Approach and objectives for the Churchill talks', u.d., p. 1.

    12 Dwight D. Eisenhower Library (DDE), Ann Whitman File, International Series, box 18, Churchill visit Jun. 1954 (3), memo. conv. 26 Jun. 1954, p. 2; box 16, President-Churchill (vol. i), 20 Jan. 1953-28 May 1953 (1), Churchill to Eisenhower, 9 Feb. 1953; folder President-Churchill (vol. ii), 28 May 1953-14 Oct. 1953 (3), Churchill to Eisenhower, 26 Jun. 1953.

    13 DDE, Ann Whitmann File, International Series, box 15, Great Britain (3), Eisenhower to Eden, 16 Mar. 1953.

    14 HST, Acheson Papers, box 75, folder 1, Princeton Seminar 11-13 Dec. 1953, reel 1, track 2, p. 12; PSF, box 116, Truman Churchill meetings, Papers prepared for general information, Steering Group preparation for Pres. and P.M. talks, 'Approach and objectives for the Churchill talks', u.d., p. 1. National Archives Washington (NA), RG 59, box 2769, memo. by R. B. Knight to Matthews, 'Conversations between President Truman and Mr Churchill-US objectives', 10 Dec. 1951.

    15 DDE, J. F. Dulles Papers 1951-59, box 10, Churchill Eden correspondence 1954 (3), memo. for the Sec. State from C. W. McCardle, 9 Jul. 1954, p. 2.

    16 Ibid., Subject Series, box 8, Classified, memo. by JFD to Eisenhower, 5 Jan. 1953.

    17 For details see J. A. DeNovo, 'The Culbertson Economic Mission and Anglo-American Tensions in the Middle East, 1944-1945', Journal of American History, 63 (1976-77), pp. 913-36; Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) 1947, vol. 5, memo. by Chief of Division of South Asian affairs, 5 Nov. 1947, p. 579.

    18 For a contemporary defence of the Sterling Area see H. Gaitskell, 'The Sterling Area', International Affairs, 28 (1952), pp. 170-6.

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